Presentation on theme: "Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen."— Presentation transcript:
Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen
Students for a Democratic Society: Port Huron Statement (1962) The Port Huron Statement represented several months of writing and discussion among SDS membership, a draft paper, and revision by the Students for a Democratic Society national convention meeting in Port Huron, Michigan in SDS laments the fact that American culture does not evaluate individuals based upon the strength of their character, but relies on superficial means of assessment such as possessions and test scores. Note the concerns relating to disengagement from society—a common theme in 1960s cultural discourse.
From the Port Huron Statement When we were kids the United States was the wealthiest and strongest country in the world… Many of us began maturing in complacency. The worldwide outbreak of revolution against colonialism and imperialism, the entrenchment of totalitarian states, the menace of war, overpopulation, international disorder, supertechnology--these trends were testing the tenacity of our own commitment to democracy and freedom… Loneliness, estrangement, isolation describe the vast distance between man and man today. … We would replace power rooted in possession, privilege, or circumstance by power and uniqueness rooted in love, reflectiveness, reason, and creativity. As a social system we seek the establishment of a democracy of individual participation… The university "prepares" the student for "citizenship" through perpetual rehearsals and, usually, through emasculation of what creative spirit there is in the individual. … America is without community impulse, without the inner momentum necessary for an age when societies cannot successfully perpetuate themselves by their military weapons, when democracy must be viable because of its quality of life, not its quantity of rockets.
The SDS Vietnam Protest (1965) The first anti-Vietnam War demonstration to gain front-page coverage from The New York Times was organized by “an obscure little organization called Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).” At the time, it was the largest antiwar protest in American history, with 25,000 marching on Washington. They were a diverse group of students and adults of various universities and political affiliations. 10% were African-American and many had attended the civil rights demonstrations in Washington D.C. years earlier.
The SDS Vietnam Protest (1965) The demonstrators constructed a petition to end the war and refused to disperse until the declaration was accepted by a police officer. The petition offered “many schemes” to end the war, “including reconvening the Geneva Conference, negotiating with the NLF and North Vietnam, immediate withdrawal, and UN-supervised elections.” The non-violent demonstration drew neither police action nor altercations between protestors and counter protestors.
The SDS and the Weathermen By the late 1960s, the SDS had splintered. One of its resultant movements, Weather Underground, supported violent action as a necessary means to destroy capitalism and, in their opinion, the oppression that arose from such a system. This photo is from one of the first Weather Underground protests, the "Day of Rage" in Chicago which led to over 70 arrests.
The Violent Weather Underground As the 1960s yielded to the 1970s, the Weather Underground became increasingly violent and radical. This photograph shows a bombing attributed to the Weathermen during that time.
FBI: Files on the Weather Underground (1976) The Weathermen, of course, did not just happen to come about during the June, 1969, SDS National Convention. They fully admit their radical heritage began during experiences gained in SDS… The campus base was forgotten and the WUO began to recruit greasers and assorted oddments who had displayed their hatred of authority in direct combat with the police… …regardless of their continued seeking of ideological clarity, the WUO has maintained consistency on several key points. They are: -The understanding that the primary contradiction facing the world is that between U.S. imperialism and the oppressed peoples of the world, especially Third World people. -That revolutionaries are internationalists and as such they have a duty and obligation to the international communist movement which “must guide it.” -That armed struggle is the ultimate necessity of the political revolutionary which must be used in order to seize state power and defeat U.S. imperialism…